Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


An Epitaph for Little Children

These, fast asleep in such a little room,
The tawdry grave-wreaths crackling over them,
Might have been men who would have moved the world,
Might have been women, mothers of a race
More great than we can know. The could not live:
We have to build great armaments to fight
Forests of things half man, half animal,
Far in the islands that our trading needs:
We have to build high palaces to keep
White childless women merry and content:
We have no money left to save for these,
These, only little children, only poor,
Life in the heats; we have no place to spare
That they could play in….Yet we need not grieve,
Not more than they, asleep. We need not grieve
Even for those of them who have not died,
For they, made warped and blind by circumstance
Shall live their round from stupid day to day,
Too dull to know a need; and they shall bear
Dull, blinded folk to rule this world of ours
We shall have died from. Do not mourn for these:
Mourn for that sorry world that still shall be,
Made by our careless hands that make today
These little children so to live or die. 

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. 

Author


Margaret Widdemer

Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1884. In 1919, she won the Pulitzer Prize, then known as the Columbia University Prize, for her 1919 collection The Old Road to Paradise. She died in 1978. 

Date Published: 1915-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/epitaph-little-children